Sprint licenses tumor metabolism program to Bayer in €190M deal

Sprint Bioscience (STO:SPRINT) has entered into a cancer research collaboration with Bayer, handing over the rights to an early-stage tumor metabolism program in return for €190 million ($210 million) in upfront and milestone payments.

Sprint CEO Anders Åberg

The deal is among the biggest events in the 6-year history of Sprint, in which it has built a team of exiles from AstraZeneca ($AZN) and set about applying a fragment- and structure-based approach to the discovery of oncology assets. Stockholm, Sweden-based Sprint picked tumor metabolism as one of its two main areas of research--the other being lipid signaling--and has now reached a stage in its development at which it is capable of catching the attentions of large drugmakers. Bayer has agreed to pay €190 million as an undisclosed mix of upfront and milestone payments for a preclinical asset.

Sprint is pleased with the deal. "We are convinced that Bayer is a perfect partner to further develop this program. This agreement also gives us the opportunity to further invest in the expansion of our portfolio within the area of tumor metabolism," Sprint CEO Anders Åberg said in a statement. Sprint presents three programs in its tumor metabolism pipeline, one of which--an inhibitor of PFKFB3--is listed as being sold. The PFKFB3 program is at the stage of developing a candidate for in vivo tests. A nucleotide metabolism program is at a similar stage, while a lipid signaling asset is more advanced.

Funding for the work to date has come primarily from financing rounds of undisclosed sizes--the most recent of which occurred in 2012--grants, a collaboration with TPP Global Development and SEK 22.7 ($2.6 million) share issued. Sprint issued the shares last year as part of its listing on First North at Nasdaq Stockholm. Having used this cash to establish a leadership team made up of several ex-AstraZeneca scientists--including CEO Åberg--and a preclinical pipeline, Sprint is now ready to wheel and deal for an additional source of income.

Earlier this year Sprint said it was in talks with pharma companies for three of its pipeline programs. Sprint spent BIO 2015 trying to drum up interest in its inhibitor of PIP4K2A, a gene linked to TP53-deficient forms of cancer. The Swedish biopharma is also looking to strike deals for a lipid signaling program focused on Vps34 and a nucleotide metabolism asset aimed at the MTH1 enzyme. Once Sprint is fully up to speed, it expects to ink one or two deals a year.

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